Things to know about movie shooting

There are a couple of quirks in camera behavior worth knowing about if you're going to shoot movies with the E-M5. These aren't so much about settings changes as trying to explain undocumented behavior. Once you understand exactly how the different buttons have and interact, you may find you're able to achieve more than you might expect with the camera's movie capabilities.

Movie behavior

A lot of the camera's AF behavior in movie mode is rather clever and (you might be spotting a theme by now), is not really documented in the E-M5 user manual. The first thing you need to know is that whatever AF mode you specify when in movie shooting mode (or in Custom Menu A, 'AF Mode' - 'Movie') is the one you'll get when you hit the REC button, whether you're shooting from Movie mode or a stills shooting mode.

Autofocus and Function button behavior:

Also worth knowing is that C-AF behaves differently when in movie mode. Depending on which lens you use (and it's particualrly good with the 12-50mm F3.5-6.3), the camera will perform a slower focus change, rather than racing to find the subject. Also worth knowing about is the 12-50's L-Fn button, which is set to be AF-Stop, by default. Holding the button down stops the camera trying to refocus, and when you release it, the camera will try to focus slowly and smoothly to the new subject.

As mentioned earlier, only four of the functions that can be assigned to Fn1 are available in movie mode (AEL/AFL, Off, Digital Teleconverter and AF Area Select). Setting it to Off, or to any of the settings from stills mode, will cause the Fn1 button to act as focus acquire/hold while shooting movies. Digital Teleconverter and AF Area select are only available until you hit the REC button - once shooting has begun, Fn1 has no effect. AEL/AFL will work during movie shooting if the camera is in movie mode - press REC from a stills shooting mode and it has no effect.

Being able to use AEL during movie shooting is useful, as it's the only way of influencing exposure as you shoot. However, the ability to perform AF-acquire/hold can be useful too. Unlike the dedicated AF Stop option that can be applied to L-Fn, pressing the Fn1 button causes the camera to try to jump quickly to the new subject and releasing it causes it to do the same again.

The 12-50mm F3.5-6.3's lens function button can be configured to be AF-Stop, a function we'd really like to see available on other function buttons.

The interesting thing is that the two buttons can even be used together. Once focus has been held, whether by the L-Fn button, Fn1 button or a half press, you can hold the L-Fn button and release the other buttons. Release the L-Fn button and you get a a smooth attempt to refocus. However if, when holding L-Fn, you press and hold the Fn1 button then, when you release L-Fn, the camera will attempt to perform a fast jump back into focus.

Another knock-on effect of Fn1 acting as AF acquire is that, if you shoot with C-AF+TR in movie mode, the Fn1 button tells the camera to start tracking whatever is now in the selected AF area (chosen before the movie shooting was started).

Letting the Fn1 button be AF acquire does mean that you lose AEL, but that can be assigned to Fn2, if you need both features. It means you lose the handy Multi-function feature from stills shooting but, if you're recording video in which you need to be able to lock exposure and control refocusing, it's likely that you're mainly focused on video shooting.

Overall the E-M5 is a very capable camera, even without delving around in the menus but, depending on how you want to shoot, you may find some of these hints and tips make it even more enjoyable to use.